Explore the Decade

School of GeoSciences

University of Edinburgh

Ocean Policy & Sustainable Development


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School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Grant Institute, James Hutton Road
Edinburgh GBR

The University of Edinburgh was established in 1583 and is a member of both the Russell Group, and the League of European Research Universities, a consortium of 21 research universities in Europe. The UK’s 2014 ‘Research Excellence Framework’ concluded that 83% of the University’s research activity was classified as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. In 2018/19 the University had 43,380 students and 15,802 staff working across colleges of Arts, Humanities & Social Science, Medicine & Veterinary Medicine and Science & Engineering. Each of these Colleges has at least one research area ranked top in the UK. Edinburgh research in Sociology, in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (including geography) and in Computer Science and Informatics was rated the best in the UK, based on breadth and quality of research. Its heritage and the breadth of its on-going research and teaching activities give the University of Edinburgh a unique perspective from which to tackle the challenges of sustainable and equitable development during a time of unprecedented global climatic change. Who we are today is a product of our long history of innovative thinking. Before, during and after the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, the University has been at the forefront of academia in a city where notable thinkers have included David Hume, the philosopher, economist and essayist; Joseph Black, the chemist behind the discovery of latent heat and carbon dioxide; and James Hutton, the ‘Father of Modern Geology’. Charles Darwin began his student life at Edinburgh and Charles Wyville Thomson who led the pioneering HMS Challenger expedition (1872-76) held the University’s Chair in Natural History. The University of Edinburgh’s ocean research and teaching encompasses the full range of marine socio-ecological systems from basic research through to policy development. Staff and students at the University are currently working on: (1) Food security, aquaculture genetics and health, veterinary medicine; (2) Marine ecology in a changing ocean, evolutionary biology, epidemiology, pollutants and microplastics; (3) Palaeoceanography and climate records; (4) Ocean observation and modelling; (5) Glaciology and ice-ocean interaction; (6) Geomorphology and coastal dynamics; (7) Marine robotics and sensor development; (8) Marine renewable energy engineering and testing; (9) Human geography, development and social science; (10) Ecological economics; (11) Law, policy and ocean governance. The University also has leading expertise that cross cuts these areas notably in Big Data and Informatics, Modelling, Systems Analysis, Remote Sensing and Mapping. Its heritage and the breadth of its on-going research and teaching activities give the University of Edinburgh a unique perspective relevant to the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development’s four overarching scientific objectives and six societal goals.

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